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Shots from Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

2019 Score Baja 1000

Dec 082019

Each November, the off-road racing world converges just south of the U.S./Mexico border for the most storied event of it’s kind. For decades, the Monster Energy-sponsored SCORE Baja 1000 has lured racers from all walks of life to this historic peninsula that defines Mexico’s Pacific coast. While the region is just as much a destination for travelers to enjoy a sun-drenched getaway with impeccable coastal scenery, one could argue that “The Granddaddy of Them All” is what has ultimately defined Baja’s majesty.

In the weekend leading into the Thanksgiving holiday, 264 entrants made their way down to Baja to partake in this annual tradition. The layout for the 52nd running of the 1000 was a treacherous as ever, with 800.5-mile run up, down and across the peninsula. As expected, attrition was high as Baja continued to claim victims. The ability to build and drive a vehicle with enough caution and precision so that it survives the journey is an accolade unto itself, and when the dust settled and the sun rose on Sunday morning, 145 official finishers had taken the checkered flag. Among those finishers was an overall winner and a series of individual class champions, in which Monster Energy was able to leave its mark of the famed race. In total, Monster Energy drivers captured a trio of class wins and even had a hand in the run to the overall victory.

Baja natives, the Ampudia Brothers, ultimately prevailed as the 2019 champions, taking the overall victory with a time of 16 hours, 10 minutes and 36 seconds. That triumphant journey wouldn’t have been possible without some crucial assistance from Monster Energy’s Rodrigo Ampudia, a hugely successful racer in his own right. While he didn’t partake in driving duties this time around, Rodrigo provided navigation for his brothers, Alan and Aaron, and helped guide them to victory.


While four-wheeled trucks, buggies, UTVs and more dominate the entry list in the Baja 1000 each year, it’s on two wheels where Monster Energy has enjoyed his most significant dominance. For years Slam Life Racing (SLR) and it's Honda CRF450X has set the standard in the motorcycle division, where the Monster Energy crew, led by Justin Morgan, has clicked off win after win. It was more of the same this time around, as Morgan was joined by Shane Esposito, Max Eddy Jr., and David Kamo for this year’s 1000. SLR has enjoyed a string of dominance that has extended for over a year, and it continued with the squad’s eighth consecutive victories in the SCORE World Desert Championship. The team started first off the line in their 800-mile journey and never relinquished the lead, cruising to the finish line in a time of 17 hours, 34 minutes and 28 seconds. That time was good enough to land the motorcycle team in sixth in the overall classification, where they missed out on a top-five finish by just 10 minutes.


“It was really good conditions,” said Morgan after the race. “I was expecting more mud but it was really good in the desert. I would never have thought I would have eight wins. We lost a lot of races to learn how to win them, so it is finally paying off.”



Back on four wheels, the Hammer Truck Unlimited class saw none other than longtime Monster Army member Casey Currie and his four-driver lineup take the win driving his tricked-out Jeep Wrangler. Currie has really paved the way for the continued progression of what has become one

of SCORE’s most unique classes, and the Jeep loyalist is always fighting to bring some recognition to the iconic brand. There’s no better way to do that than to take a hard-earned class win in the Baja 1000, where Currie dominated with a time of 21 hours, 54 minutes and 33 seconds. Currie and his team crossed the line nearly four full hours ahead of his next closest competitor.


Rounding out the triumphant efforts for Monster Energy at this year’s Baja 1000 was the Monster Energy-backed Cognito Motorsports team led by Justin Lambert. The four-driver lineup piloted their Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo to an impressive time of 21 hours and 43 seconds in the Pro UTV Forced Induction class, which ultimately gave them a top-30 finish in the overall standings. They finished 19 minutes clear of their next competitor in the division, which capped off a truly memorable outing in a class that featured one of the highest numbers of entries in the entire event.

While the success of a Baja 1000 victory is something that any off-road racer dreams of, what truly makes this event so special is its spectacle. There isn’t a race on the planet that challenges a driver or a rider moreover such a short period of time than the world’s most iconic, oldest, prestigious and longest continuously held desert race. With more than a half-century of history behind it, Baja has become a pilgrimage for any racing fan, and you could argue that the residents of the area themselves are more passionate about their event than fans of the most high profile racing series, whether its Formula 1 or NASCAR. The passion that permeates every inch of this event, from spectators to competitors, is what sets the Baja 1000 apart from any other race. 


Adding to the lore of the event are the vehicles themselves. This is a single-most-diverse collection of vehicles you’ll ever see assemble for a racing event, from pristine, custom-built Trophy Trucks made for the sole purpose of tackling this treacherous terrain, to stock-based Volkswagen Beetles that look like they have no business in Baja, but are arguably the centerpiece of the storied history of this event.


Make no mistake, however. The trucks are the stars of the show at the Baja 1000 because they stand alone in their performance capabilities. Nothing is built to withstand brutality quite like a Trophy Truck, but somehow these million-dollar machines make tackling the most brutal terrain on earth looks graceful. Being able to witness a massive, 1000 horsepower truck soar through the air at nearly 100 miles an hour, or dance across a sea of dirt moguls as if it was flat ground is a sight to behold, and it’s what has captivated millions of people from all around the world, bringing them to Baja in order to experience the thrill for themselves.


At the end of the day, the Baja 1000 is for anyone and everyone, and that’s why it’s affectionately called “The Granddaddy of Them All.” Everyone is welcome to take their shot, or they can simply stand on the sidelines and cheer on those daring to take the journey. Virtually anyone has the chance to be a hero in the 1000, and that’s just one of the many things that makes it such a special event.


To get an in-depth look at what the Baja 1000 is all about, check out this special documentary style piece profiling the Monster Energy racers that tackled the 2019 event.